2008 Questions for Barack Obama
posted by November 26 at 9:45 AMon
This Washington Post story could be trouble for Obama because it suggests he’s been buying endorsements through his Hopefund, perhaps in violation of campaign finance rules:
When Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) launched his presidential campaign in January, he stopped raising money for his Hopefund, the political action committee he used to raise millions for fellow Democrats in previous campaigns. But in recent months, Obama has handed out more than $180,000 from the nearly dormant PAC to local Democratic groups and candidates in the key early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, campaign reports show.
Some of the recipients of Hopefund’s largess are state and local politicians who have recently endorsed Obama’s presidential bid. Obama’s PAC reported giving a $1,000 contribution, for instance, to New Hampshire state Sen. Jacalyn Cilley on July 25, six days before she announced she was endorsing Obama for president.
The recipients deny there was any quid-pro-quo, and so does the Obama campaign, but just the fact of the need for these denials could be harmful. At the very least, it’s an opening the Clinton campaign is now leaping through in order to criticize Obama. I just received an email from camp Clinton titled, “Clinton Campaign Responds To New Revelations About Obama Campaign Finance Practices,” and listing six questions for the Senator from Illinois to answer:
This morning, we learned that Senator Obama has been using his leadership PAC to give political contributions to officials in the early primary states. In fact, 68 percent of contributions from his PAC have gone to those in states that are scheduled to hold nominating contests on February 5th or earlier.
It is our understanding that a candidate’s campaign is barred from using the candidate’s leadership PAC to benefit his or her campaign which is why we shut down HillPAC when Senator Clinton announced her run for the White House.
On the campaign trail, Senator Obama is outspoken about his desire to reform the campaign finance system so it was surprising to learn that he has been using his PAC in a manner that appears to be inconsistent with the prevailing election laws. Considering how often Senator Obama talks about his efforts to be transparent, we presume he will answer the following questions regarding the behavior of his PAC:
1. Who decided what contributions would be made by Hopefund?
2. Did any presidential campaign staff, consultants or advisors participate in any discussions about Hopefund contributions? Who?
3. Did the decision-makers know who was endorsing the presidential campaign? If so, how did they find this out?
4. Who told Hopefund which Iowa and New Hampshire candidates and committees should get contributions?
5. Are there any overlapping employees, consultants and advisors between Hopefund and the presidential campaign?
6. The Washington Post article suggests that Hopefund was dormant earlier in the year. Who made the decision to start making contributions again and on what basis was that decision made?